If you are looking for a salad that is bursting with bright, fresh flavors, look no more! This “Middle Earth” delight has a simple vinaigrette dressing that, through some alchemy, “pops” the flavors of the tomatoes and cucumber; “crunches up” the taste of romaine lettuce; and smooths the palate with feta and chickpeas. Kalamata olives provide the “Ta dah!” moment with an exclamation point of piquancy.
I absolutely love the flavors and textures of this. Transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean!
This recipe comes from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, from America’s Test Kitchen. I made a few small adjustments because, well, I like shortcuts. For instance, the recipe calls for “one cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into ½ -inch pieces.” I used half an English cucumber because an English cucumber has smaller seeds and, like the English, it has thinner skin – so I didn’t peel or remove seeds. (You’re welcome).
The olives needed are described as “½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped.” Anyone else ever wonder if the ½ cup is before or after chopping? I bought the sliced Kalamata olives, measured out ½ cup and decided that slicing was close enough to chopping. I have chopped the olives other times for this salad; it works both ways.
I also decided to measure out the red onion, because sometimes onions can overwhelm. Besides, calling for ½ of a small onion is not very specific. For me, the right amount was ½ cup of chopped red onion. If you love onion, feel free to increase this amount.
To assemble this salad, start by salting and draining the tomatoes and cucumbers to draw out their moisture (this helps keep the salad from getting soggy). They need to drain for 15 minutes, which gives you time to prep all the other ingredients.
Then, whisk the three dressing ingredients together in a big bowl, add the vegetables and let them marinate for at least 5 (or up to 20) minutes.
Add the lettuce and cheese, salt and pepper if desired, and you are done!
Tip: Per the Test Kitchen, this serves four. All I can say is, those are four very hungry vegetarians! This recipe fills a big bowl – by my estimate, 10 cups of salad once done. So, if you are serving this at a potluck where everyone takes a ½ a cup of salad because they want to taste everything…then it serves 20! For the nutrition calculations, I chose six.
I eat this as a vegetarian main dish, my guy eats it as a side. It goes well with a grilled chicken breast, or maybe pulled pork. Leftovers keep til the next day, but it is definitely best on the day it is made.
I hope you give this Mediterranean Chopped Salad a try. And, let me know what you think!
Mediterranean Chopped Salad
- ½ English cucumber quartered lengthwise and cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 pint grape tomatoes quartered
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 TB red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 3 TB olive oil
- 1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives chopped
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 romaine lettuce heart about 6 ounces, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 4 ounces feta cheese crumbled (1 cup)
- Toss the chopped cucumber and tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of salt and let drain in a colander for at least 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic and vinegar. Whisking constantly, drizzle the oil in slowly. Add the cucumber-tomato mixture, plus the chickpeas, olives, onion and parsley and toss to coat. Let sit to marinate for at least 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes.
- Add lettuce and feta and gently toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.